$80 Billion Dam for the Congo

A proposed hydroelectric dam on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo could double the electricity available in all of Africa and bring power to hundreds of millions of people. Representatives from seven African countries are meeting with construction firms and bankers to plan construction on Grand Inga, as the dam is named.
Grand Inga was proposed in the 1980s but never got beyond feasibility studies because of political turmoil in central Africa. But now it stands a chance, according to Gerald Doucet, secretary general of the World Energy Council thinktank, which is convening the London meeting.

"It is the greatest sustainable development project, offering Africa a unique chance for interdependence and prosperity," said Doucet. "It's much more feasible now than ever. There is a peace settlement in Congo, and economic and technical studies have all shown it is possible."

Some advocacy groups fear that even if an incredible amount of power is generated, it won’t benefit most citizens of Africa. Terry Hathaway of the organization International Rivers fears corruption in such a large project.
Hathaway said that the 94% of people in Congo DRC and the two in three Africans who have no electricity now were unlikely to benefit because the dam depends on exporting its electricity to existing centres of industry, especially in South Africa where there have been power shortages.

"As it stands, the project's electricity won't reach even a fraction of the continent's 500 million people not yet connected to the grid. Building a distribution network that would actually light up Africa would increase the project's cost exponentially. It would be very different if rural energy received the kind of commitment and attention now being lavished on Inga," she said.

The proposed cost of the Grand Inga is estimated at $80 billion. Link -via Digg

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Akiro, how does that work? Would oil be a better thing to use for power? Coal? If there was a landslide and it blocked a river, would that be a terrible environmental impact?

I believe they are hoping to get an economy started and join the rest of the world. You don't build transmission lines first and then build power plants.

It also seems like exporting power would provide needed cash.

I don't know all the details obviously, but it seems to me this has a good chance of being a win-win. Unless you just want them to remain a fifth world country with no hope.
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Creating the dam would have a terrible environmental impact as hydroelectric power dams are particularly damning on the environment... green pun :)

The damn would destroy a huge amount of land from flooding for the reservoir. This would remove animal habitat and farming land. There is also the terrible disruption to the river dams cause.

I agree with fsmarch lets focus on food not electricity production.

Oh and anyone have problems logging in today? Lots of PHP errors for me.
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$80Billion spent and then we'll get another 200Billion emails a year promising us untold riches if we'll just send a check to cover the administration of secret funds or lottery winnings being smuggled out of Nigeria.

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Considering there's a war going on there ...

What's the point of building the plant (even assuming it gets sufficient military protection), when the transmission lines are certain to be sabotaged or stolen?
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